When I was 43, I had my third child. It was a powerful experience that opened the door to a period of change in my life. I’d had two children in my thirties, and the third one was my last hurrah. After that, I wasn’t able to get pregnant anymore, and I went into full-blown perimenopause, which prompted some deep soul searching. Not only was my body changing, but so were my emotions and psyche. I was examining everything.
I looked back at all the choices I had made and where they had led me. In my twenties, I had gotten pregnant out of wedlock twice, and it had frightened me. I hadn’t felt adequate to bring a child into the world, so I’d had abortions both times. I started to call myself pro-choice.
But having children changed me. When I look at how much I love them, it affirms my relationship with God. I see life as a gift. Going through perimenopause caused me to think both about life—my new child—and about my mortality, as well as that of my parents. These thoughts impressed upon me that the power of life and death was not in my hands. By the time I was 50, I had become pro-life. I could no longer justify my abortions. It became obvious to me that I had interrupted a cycle of life that was not mine to interrupt.
Pro-Life to Pro-Choice
"My baby could have killed me," Ginger Thew, 48, stay-at-home mom; Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Early on, my take on abortion was: It didn’t matter to me. I was pro-life; I had no intention of having an abortion. As for everyone else, I could not have cared less.
Then, at 27, when I was 26 weeks along in a pregnancy, I was told that my baby had a rare condition that could cause complications for me.
My husband and I saw a genetic specialist, who tossed out phrases likeDandy-Walker syndrome, worst case we’ve ever seen and 5 percent chance of making it to birth. The baby’s brain was one third the size it should have been, and the fluid around the brain was increasing. “Her head is expanding so rapidly, it is going to eventually crush into your organs,” I remember our doctor saying later.
I looked at my husband and said, “What are we going to do?” I already had three kids who were very young—two, six and eight. My husband turned to me, crying, and said, “Gin, this baby is not going to live. Why are we risking your health to carry it to term?”
We went back to the doctors and were told it was against Wisconsin law to terminate a pregnancy this far along unless my life was immediately at risk. Mine was not, yet, and my doctors would not tell me of any other abortion options. Planned Parenthood finally informed me we could see Dr. George Tiller, in Kansas, for a late-term abortion.
While I was sitting in Dr. Tiller’s office, I realized that medical information had been withheld from me because someone else
decided I shouldn’t know it. And I thought, Who am I to judge someone? After that,
I have been pro-choice.
Pro-Choice to Pro-Life
"I saw a sonogram of my baby," Albany Rose, 21, stay-at-home mom; La Salle, Colorado
Abortion was never brought up in my family until I got pregnant at 15.My dad told me that if I did not get an abortion, I would be kicked out of the house. So I went into the clinic and had it done. For 15 days after that, I didn’t get out of bed. I felt numb and angry, and I didn’t know why, as abortion had seemed to be the best option. Rather than facing what happened, I decided to be pro-choice. I felt that being pro-life, after what I’d done, would have made me a hypocrite.
I became pregnant again at 19. And it was different from the very beginning. My boyfriend was ecstatic, thrilled. He said, “We’re going to make this work.” Then came the eight-week ultrasound. My expectation was that I was going to see a little fuzzy thing, but this was one of the clearest pictures I’ve ever seen. I could see the baby’s head, the stubs of its arms and feet, and the heart beating away, clear as day.